Courtney Accocella ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Assistant Web Editor
Joey Graceffa has made Youtube videos for 8 years, keeping his viewers laughing and entertained from his gaming channel, to his main channel vlogs and fan sponsored web series Storytellers. This year Graceffa has opened a new dialog with his fans and it revolves around a level of openness and honesty that is difficult for most to achieve.
Three weeks ago Graceffa’s fans were ready to own the fandom name of Psychopaths when the 24-year-old posted his new music video “Don’t Wait”. While the video has a number of incredible moments, by far the most notable was in the last moments as Graceffa turns to the man he just saved and the two share a kiss. It’s an incredible moment as fans realize ‘don’t wait for the world to be ready’ has a lot more meaning than a catchy tune.
Graceffa’s creativity is the real star of “Don’t Wait”, standing as a true original amongst coming out videos on Youtube. As he shared in a conversation with Emertainment, he had originally planned to reveal his sexuality in his newly released memoir, In Real Life: My Journey to a Pixelated World. Instead Graceffa uses the memoir to go in-depth on his struggles at home and in school and even with accepting himself. Graceffa discusses the process and challenges of opening up to his fans and gives his advice on coming out.
Entertainment Monthly: What first motivated you to start making Youtube videos and how do you think your motivation has changed over the years?
Joey Graceffa: The first motivation was really that I was already making videos for myself and I saw Youtube as a place for them to be seen by other people. I wanted to see what they thought of them and get their thoughts on my written videos. It was really just for fun. I think it evolved when Youtube became partnered with Google and you could start making money. It almost became like a way of making money and eventually turned into my career. While it still is a lot of fun to do, it’s my job at the same time. So the motivation is a bit mixed now.
EM: So you just released your memoir In Real Life: My Journey to A Pixelated World, congratulations! What insight do you think the book gives to your fans that is different from your Youtube Channel?
JG: Thank you! Well, in the book I talk about a lot of things that I have never talked about on my Youtube channel before. Until a couple of weeks ago I wasn’t out as being gay online. So I go in-depth with relationships that I had and my first heartbreak and kind of how it was coming to terms with my sexuality. And then I also talk about growing up in an alcoholic home and also stuff that happened at school about being bullied and what not.
EM: What was the experience of writing a memoir like for you? Did you find the process more or less challenging than you might have expected?
JG: I think it was more of a sense of a challenge in the way where going back to those experiences was definitely a lot harder than I anticipated. Especially because you have to constantly reread it over and over again. It’s not fun reliving tough moments of your life. So it was harder than I imagined.
EM: Can you talk a little about the response you’ve been getting from viewers on your book tour, any stand out moments?
JG: The response has been awesome! A lot of the fans have had a lot of energy. Especially, I just came from Miami and there was a lot of crying girls and that was very extreme! It’s strange to see them like crying over you because like why, why are you crying? I don’t understand! But it’s really cute and they’ve all been really great!
EM: You mentioned you just came out online, and you did that in your new music video “Don’t Wait”. Can you talk about the process of creating the video and some of the take aways from it.
JG: I wanted something that was kind of intended to sort of hint at my sexuality. But I guess when you see it it comes across a lot more obvious. So I kind of just like rolled with it. I just felt like you know this has a really good message and I like how it all turned out, so I guess this is essentially my coming out video. So the process was really quick actually, because initially the book was going to be the announcement of my coming out. But then I wanted to do the music video and so I came up with a song idea, got some writers to help me out with that. And then from there found a director, who I have been working with on all of my previous music projects. Went up to Montana and shot it. Came back edited it in like a week and a half and then posted it. So the process was really fast, and I am really happy with it!
EM: You’ve mentioned that you wanted to come out when you were ready, how did you know it was the right time for you to come out?
JG: I think because I had been out for a couple of years with my friends and family and in that time I was able to become okay with who I was. The process of writing the book helped out a lot too because the more I talked about it, the more I came to terms with it, made it easier for me to be public about it.
EM: What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t know if they are ready to come out yet?
JG: It varies with every single person. Like if they do feel like it could be the right time than go for it! The sooner and more comfortable you feel with yourself the sooner you can be who you truly are! I think a big thing for me was why do I need to satisfy all these other people’s feelings when I am the one living my life and if I keep that part hidden than I am not truly living to my full potential. I wanted to achieve my full happiness and I couldn’t do that with this big secret that I was hiding. Once that was released to my family, to my friends, and to the world I just felt like I could be myself. It’s scary, but the world is so much more accepting too now. And I think people still have that mind-set that ‘if I come out no one is going to accept me’, but that’s not necessarily the truth in all cases. I think that’s just a little piece of what the world still is like.
For more of Joey Graceffa, you can catch him today at his Boston book signing or check out the music video for “Don’t Wait”!